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Pleasure Island.jpg

Pleasure Island is an area of the Downtown Disney shopping, dining and entertainment district at Walt Disney World Resort. Pleasure Island officially opened on May 1, 1989. In September 2008, all of the clubs on the island were closed; however, the island's retail stores and restaurants remain open. On November 18, 2010, Disney announced that Pleasure Island would be renamed and re-themed to "Hyperion Wharf." This revitalization project is expected to be completed by Spring 2013.

History

Pleasure Island opened emulating Church Street Station in Downtown Orlando, Florida. At that time, this was a highly successful gated attraction which offered admission to multiple clubs for one price.

Pleasure Island is thought to be named for Pleasure Island from the book The Adventures of Pinocchio, upon which Disney's 1940 film Pinocchio is based. In the book, children on the island are allowed to play and never work. These unsupervised children smoke, drink, and generally misbehave (sometimes in adult-like ways). They are eventually punished by being changed into donkeys that are forced to work in salt mines.

Every night at midnight, "New Year's Eve" was celebrated at Pleasure Island with a fireworks show. This tradition lasted from 1990 through New Year's Eve 2005.

On June 27, 2008, Walt Disney World Resort announced that over the next two years, Pleasure Island's night clubs would be replaced with new stores and restaurants. Disney denied rumors that these changes were due to a decrease in attendance at Pleasure Island, stating instead that the company was responding to guest feedback asking for more family friendly experiences. The entertainment venues, including night clubs and comedy clubs, ceased operations on September 27, 2008.

Entrance Policies

Former coaches from the Fort Wilderness Railroad, which operated from 1973-1977, were used as ticket booths located at the entrance to the island.

  • Effective January 1, 2007, the dance clubs reverted to a policy which required guests to be age 21 or older. Minors could still visit the Comedy Warehouse and Adventurers Club, as well as visit the shops and restaurants on the island.
  • Effective June 27, 2008, customers who purchased annual passes to Pleasure Island could receive a pro-rated refund for that purchase, due to the September 2008 closure of all Pleasure Island nightclubs.

Changes in 2006-2009

  • Major renovations to Pleasure Island were made in March 2006 in an attempt to reverse declining attendance. These changes included the closing and dismantling of the West End Stage and the Hub Stage. Since there was no longer an entry fee to Pleasure Island, the free entertainment provided by these stages was attracting large groups of local teens which was considered undesirable. The area formerly occupied by the West End Stage is the location of the new pedestrian bridge to Downtown Disney West Side and provides visitors a greater line-of-sight view from Pleasure Island to the West Side. The removal of the Hub Stage opened a small area to a view of the lagoon located behind Pleasure Island, including a dock.
  • In late June 2006, a life-size Jessica Rabbit sign above the roof of "Pleasure Island Tonight!" was removed.
  • The construction of new docks allow boat transportation links between West Side, Pleasure Island, Marketplace, and Disney resorts across the lagoon and up the Sassagoula River.
  • In late June 2008, Disney announced that the six remaining nightclubs at Pleasure Island would close by September 28, 2008, to make room for additional family-oriented entertainment. Disney officials stated that the Pleasure Island nightclub closures are in response to customers who desire more broad-based dining and retail opportunities.
  • In 2009, a building that previously housed stores and a fast food restaurant was completely renovated by E-Brands, the operator of the Samba Room restaurant in Orlando, into Paradiso 37, a Central/South American-themed restaurant.
  • In February 2009, amid rumors of a partial reopening of Pleasure Island, Disney announced that three former clubs would become available for private party rentals. Motion, Soundstage Club, and Adventurers Club were available for rental through the end of March 2010.

Final Celebrations

September 27, 2008 was Pleasure Island's last night. Among the capacity crowd were many of the island's past actors and Cast Members, some of whom started to line up at 9am to ensure entrance to what would be a very emotional and busy night.

Highlights included Frankie and the West End Boys playing on the waterfront stage. The members of the Adventurers Club, being unable to raise enough money in their nightly RadioThon fundraiser, lost the lease on the club. This caused the club president to remark that they would hold their meetings "somewhere, probably in someone's basement." The club's long lost ape, Marcel, returned (having made a ton of money in the stock market) to take them away on a one-year world adventure.

At midnight, "New Year's Eve" was celebrated one last time. A fireworks show was complemented by popular songs heard on the Island over the years. The final song played in Mannequins was "Everybody’s Free (To Feel Good)" by Rozalla. With that, Pleasure Island was officially shut down. By the next day, many of the clubs' signs and logos were being removed or painted over.

Hyperion Wharf

On November 10, 2010 Disney announced Hyperion Wharf, the new name for Pleasure Island. The new theme of the island will be an early 20th century nautical warehouse district. $3.2 million in new lighting features are being added, in addition to a waterfront entertainment area and a lighthouse structure. No names for shops, restaurants, or entertainment venues have been officially announced. There is no indication that any of the former clubs will reopen.

Permits and plans showed the buildings which formerly housed the Motion, Rock 'n' Roll Beach Club, Adventurers Club, and BET Soundstage clubs would be demolished. The buildings which formerly housed the Comedy Warehouse, 8TRAX, and Mannequins clubs would remain. Demolition of Motion and Rock'n'Roll Beach Club took place between December 2010 and February 2011. Earlier in 2010, the bridge from the Downtown Disney Marketplace to Pleasure Island was widened to accommodate a new, wider pedestrian pathway across the island. Further club demolitions have not taken place as of January 2012, as renovation plans are on indefinite hold.

Restaurants

  • Fulton's Crab House
  • Paradiso 37
  • Portobello Restaurant
  • Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant
  • T-Rex Cafe

Shopping

Former Restaurants

Former Shopping

  • Superstar Studios
  • The Jessica Rabbit Store

Former Entertainment

  • 8TRAX
  • Videopolis East
  • Adventurers Club
  • BET Soundstage
  • Neon Armadillo
  • Celebrate Tonight
  • Comedy Warehouse
  • Mannequins Dance Palace
  • Motion
  • Fireworks Factory
  • Wildhorse Saloon
  • Pleasure Island Jazz Company
  • Rock 'n' Roll Beach Club
  • XZFR Rockin' Rollerdrome
  • West End Stage

References in Pop Culture

  • "Itchy & Scratchy Land," a Simpsons episode from 1994, features the family visiting the theme park Itchy and Scratchy Land, an obvious parody of Walt Disney World. Marge and Homer visit "Parents' Island," which features a '70s-themed dance club where New Year's Eve is celebrated every night.
  • The March 2006 South Park episode "The Return of Chef" showed the character of Chef becoming a member of a club called the Super Adventure Club (intended to parody Scientology). The layout of the headquarters of the Super Adventure Club was patterned after the interior of Pleasure Island's Adventurers Club. It is believed that the research for this episode was done on South Park co-creator Trey Parker's honeymoon.

Sources & External Links

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